The Year of Taking the Bible Seriously: Biblical Creation versus extraBiblical Creation


A few months back (tempus fugit!), I was surprised to find that a number of visitors seemed to be coming from a particular website. I’ve met Joel Watts on several occasions and he’s a likeable fellow by anyone’s standards. That’s not to say we see eye-to-eye on everything. He doesn’t care for Ken Ham and he thinks Young Earth Creationism is completely whack. Nobody’s perfect.

He objected to my announcement of 2011 as the Year of Taking the Bible Seriously, not because he doesn’t think that’s a good idea, but because I equated it with being a Biblical Creationist [as opposed to an extraBiblical Creationist who impose extraBiblical ideas upon the text and hold to extraBiblical sources as their ultimate authority where Genesis is concerned; e.g., Old Earth Creationism, Day-Age, Gap Creationist, Framework Hypothesis, Progressive Creationism, Theistic Evolution, etc.]. The basic premise of the Year of Taking the Bible Seriously is that we need to hold the Bible as our ultimate authority. Well, he didn’t like that, because he affirms evolution and millions of years, though he rejects the extraBiblical notion that man evolved from apes or ape-like ancestors.

In any case, he began his post, Are YE Creationists the only ones to take the Bible seriously?***, with the following:

“I beg to differ with my friend Tony Breeden. Now, I’ve met Tony  several times, and he is a wonderfully spirited man who cares deeply for his family and for Scripture. While I believe that he may be overshooting the text with his Young Earth Creationism (YEC), I think he is spreading a blatantly false rumor, or inferential at the very least, when he insists that only YEC believers take the Scripture seriously or that somehow, if you take the bible seriously, you will be a YEC.”

Of course, I don’t think that at all. I noted that he’d misrepresented me a touch [he disagrees] and replied with the following:

“It is true that that I believe that the Young Earth Creation position is the only Biblically consistent interpretation of Genesis and the rest of Scripture; it is not true that I believe that anyone who takes his Bible serious will come to believe in a YEC position, for truth nor reason compels – that is, people do not always come to a logically consistent, nonarbitrary position though they should.  

 Of course, he wasn’t finished:

“I am not a YEC believer – but I believe that Scripture is to be taken serious (which is why I continue to call myself a theological conservative).”

Had it not been for Christ... A belief in evolution was the least of my problems back then.

If he’d stopped right there, I probably could’ve agreed with him. After all, I once rejected Biblical Creationism for evolution. My wife recalls that over a decade ago she asked me what I thought of evolution; I replied, “I suppose God could have used evolution.” A lot of Christians are like that. Their cognitive dissonance boils down to an unexamined faith. They suppose science has established millions of years and evolution as indisputable fact, so they feel must find a way to make the Bible conform to these scientific proclamations. But as the Holy Spirit began to guide me into all truth, as the Scripture promises, I began to see that the revealed Word of an omnipotent, omniscient God and the word of men in lab coats [most of whom rejected God] was not lining up. I chose to give God the benefit of the doubt. Not so with many others I’ve known…

“However, I believe that by taking it seriously, we must take the humanity in Scripture – the human authors under the Divine Inspiration in their human limitations – seriously as well. We must take in context, culture, and the history of canonization. Canonization concerns not only the books, but the order of books, the manuscripts and the shape of the text. (Think Esther and Daniel for this one). And before you throw me under the bus for saying that God has to work within human limitations – read the Scripture and examine it as a progressive revelation of God to His creation. There is a veil still yet causing us to see through a glass darkly. If you think that everything is Scripture is easily revealed, then you are in effect denying what Scripture says.”

Did you see what he did there? He said that God could not overcome the limitations of His chief creation to relate His Word clearly. He said that God had to work with what He had, these primitive folk with their misconceptions and superstitions. In doing so, He stripped God of omnipotence [for He could not overcome the limitations of mere men] and/or omniscience [since He could not fathom a way to accomplish it under any circumstances]. The theological implications of the position he takes is, well, pretty awful. He just said that God cannot overcome human limitations. Remember that the next time you pray! Of course, I know Brother Joel well enough to realize he didn’t intend to say any such thing, but what he’s said of Genesis and special revelation have further implications for the rest of theology.

I responded according to my rather sensible convictions:

“Neither is it true that I believe that only a YEC takes his Bible seriously; I do believe that only a YEC takes His entire Bible seriously enough to take God at His Word and believe that He is omnipotent to have made His menaing clear even being capable of [gasp!] overcoming the limitations of fallible men to do so. This is a high view of Scripture that I make no apologies for. I have heard this hubris [oft repeated] that some claim to take the Bible too seriously to take it literally and it’s doublespeak: If I take a man or text seriously at all, I take it in the context intended, even if it comes into conflict with men who don’t affirm it and conduct science by a naturalistic philosophy that excludes God from all consideration anyway.”

Honestly, whatever happened to Let God be true and every man a liar! If we do not take God’s Word as our ultimate authority in Genesis [rather than the word of men who doubt it], how can we trust it elsewhere, except arbitrarily? The same naturalistic science that denies special Creation, a young Earth and a world-wide Flood also precludes the possibility of water changing instantly to wine, of immaculate conception, of instantaneous weather control and, especially, of men rising from the dead. If we accept miracles, fulfilled prophecy and the resurrection in spite of the claims of men in lab coats, why do we turn around and doubt God’s Word in Genesis. Would it surprise you to note that Thomas Huxley, Darwin’s Bulldog, had more faith than these extraBiblical Creationists:

” `Creation,’ in the ordinary sense of the word, is perfectly conceivable. I find no difficulty in conceiving that, at some former period, this universe was not in existence, and that it made its appearance in six days (or instantaneously, if that is preferred), in consequence of the volition of some preexisting Being. Then, as now, the so-called a priori arguments against Theism and, given a Deity, against the possibility of creative acts, appeared to me to be devoid of reasonable foundation.” Thomas H. Huxley, quoted in *L. Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley, Vol. I (1903), p. 241 (1903). 63.

Of course, Huxley only lacked the one element of faith that extraBiblical Creationists claim to have: a belief in a Creator. Think of the irony: Huxley affirmed millions of years and evolution, but claimed that given a Deity he would have no trouble conceiving of Creation as the Bible describes. An agnostic [the very man who coined the term] has more faith in the abilities of a Creator he denies than an extraBiblical Creationist has in the abilities of the Creator he affirms.

Brother Joel next offers us a classic false dilemma:

“For Creation Sunday, YEC believers are asking that the first 11 chapters of Genesis be nailed to the door of your local church. Why? Why not the Gospel preached, always? Why is it that an extreme woodenly literal view – when in fact the original authors may not have meant it that way – be nailed to the door instead of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ who was the fulfillment of all the Scriptures and is the holy hope of humanity, regardless if you believe in YEC or OEC or EEC or ASAP, XYZ and MNOP?”

Of course, we don’t promote the historical veracity of God’s Word at the expense of the Gospel, but rather because it is the foundational basis of the Gospel. We use it as a launching point to preach the Gospel, for Genesis gives us context. It’s the bad news the Good News remedies. Let me give you an example of how this works: At this very moment, as it’s been for the past 3 months, the front page of DefendingGenesis.org has a prominent link to a post called, The Everlasting Gospel: Christ the Creator.  Read it and you’ll see how by affirming the historical reliability of Genesis, by holding the revealed Word of God as your ultimate authority, you also preach the ENTIRE Gospel.

He then goes on to castigate Martin Luther for espousing geocentrism, which is beside the point. No one here is claiming the Church Fathers and Reformers were infallible; we’re claiming the revealed Word of God is infallible and ought to be our ultimate authority.

Joel’s not convinced:

“What we actually have are people getting the Protestant Reformation wrong when they declare the Scripture as the absolute authority. For example, when you use the Protestant canon, you are using Tradition. When you (mis)use sola/solo scriptura, you are using Tradition. When you insist on literalism as the only way to take the Scripture seriously, you are denying traditions of the Christian Church. And when you add that Genesis 1-11 is more important than the Gospel, even if it is passively added, then you are adding to Scripture.

Ugh. [a] Nobody’s getting the Protestant Reformation wrong. It is well-known that Sola Scriptura was one of the five solas of the Reformation. Furthermore, even a cursory perusal of Luther’s 95 Theses reveals his conviction that the Church had unseated Biblical authority by ecclesiastical tradition. [b] When I use the “Protestant canon,” I am not appealing to tradition, unless it were the tradition charged of the apostles. The so-called “Protestant canon” is the only canon. Sure, Gnostic works, apocrypha and the like were in circulation, but these have never been viewed as God-breathed [the apocryphal works are viewed as important but not inspired]; they’re simply not on the same level as Scripture. [c] When I use sola Scriptura, I’m embracing a return to the tradition of the apostles. [d] When I insist on literalism in context, I am honoring the tradition of Scripture by taking it seriously enough to take it as God’s revealed Word and not the graspings of fallible men through whom God imperfectly imparted truth. I’m aware that Brother Joel rightly rejects the hyper-allegorical interpretations, so I’m sure he isn’t implying that all past traditions are equal. Nevertheless, we should make one thing abundantly clear: we are commanded to hold fast to the traditions we were given of the apostles – I do not say this also applies to the Fathers. Likewise, while I admire the Reformers for returning to the tradition of the apostles, I do not hold them infallible. God’s revealed Word is true from the beginning; man’s word, even the word of godly men, is prone to error. [e] A straw man… When has anyone ever said that Genesis was more important than the Gospel, even by implication? Acknowledging that it’s foundational to the Gospel is not the same thing as saying it’s more important. In fact, as related above, we consider Genesis a necessary part of the Gospel.

Now admittedly that last section of his was elephant hurling. The good news is that elephant hurling typically precedes the Big Finish. And here it is:  

“I ain’t going to lie – it chaps my ever-widening hide to see Christians deny to others Christians the ability to take Scripture seriously  (whatever that may mean to the subjective sense) because one sect believes it differently. I take Scripture seriously. I believe it to be divinely inspired and is itself a means of communicating Grace. I do not believe in the overly Alexandrian allegorical interpreting method, but that we should endeavor to mind the true meaning of the text by looking first at the context. I believe in literalism in context. For me, I believe that I take the Scripture serious because I believe it must first be understood objectively before we can apply it subjectively. And what is more, I believe that we can understand it objectively – in context, in culture, in time and space, etc… And when we do that, we will turn from recent insistences on Scripture to actually take the Holy Writ seriously. Of course, by that same token of trying to understand and apply Scripture, my dear friend would say that I am not taking Scripture seriously.”

For those of you who are still with us this far down in the post, I can sense your attention waning, so let me try to break it down for you.

Brother Joel doesn’t like it when I say extraBiblical Creationists don’t take their Bibles seriously where it concerns Genesis [and any other passage that refers to Genesis as historical] because they take extraBiblical sources as their ultimate authority over God’s Word where it concerns Genesis [and any other passage that refers to a historical Genesis]. Why? because he and other extraBiblical Creationists take the Bible seriously everywhere else, mostly.

He claims to believe in literalism in context, a statement I could affirm at face value, for we do take into account historical and grammatical considerations. But extraBiblical Creationist goes further, for what else does Brother Joel mean by the qualification “in time and space,” except long ages postulated by men as a naturalistic alternative to the Biblically revealed timeline and the world-wide Flood?

Let’s get down to brass tacks. The Year of Taking the Bible Seriously isn’t about Young Earth Creationism; it’s about our stand on Biblical authority. What we’re proposing is that beginning in 2011 [and beyond!] we use the Bible as our starting point, as our ultimate authority rather than taking the word of men as our ultimate authority in some passages of the Bible except when we arbitrarily take the Bible as our starting point in other passages. Why? Because Jesus warned that no man can serve two masters [authorities]; either God’s Word or man’s word must be our ultimate authority. Only the Biblical Creationist takes the revealed Word of God seriously enough to take it at it’s word, from beginning to end, no matter who disputes it.

And if the one who disputes it is a fellow Creationist [albeit an extraBiblical one], pray for him. I am one who can honestly and humbly say where it concerns compromise with evolution and millions of years, “There but by the grace of God go I.” Or more to the point, “Thus would I have remained but for the grace of God.” For those interested, here is the tale of man who began as a theistic evolutionist and ended up a Biblical Creationist: http://www.answersingenesis.org/creation/v19/i2/creation.asp

That’s what it’s all about.

-Rev Tony Breeden

***NOTE to the Reader: Apparently, I initially forgot to link back to Brother Joel’s original posts, as I had intended [and as is my usual habit]. He has taken issue with the omission and erroneously mischaracterized me for an honest mistake. Ah, well. These things happen.

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12 Comments Add yours

  1. Dear Tony ,
    Christian greetings from a Biblical Creationist. I agree we need to take the Bible seriously especially when it comes to Creation. Extra-biblical revelation used for Creation is false doctrine. Lord willing please check out my new book called, “DAYS OF GENESIS” (ISBN : 978-1-4500-7722-4) on Amazon.com

    1. Dale,

      Thanks for the comments. Unfortunately, if our starting points are wrong, it can and does affect our conclusions, whether we’re talking about science or doctrine.

      Your comment made me realize that I have yet to do a book review on your other book, Biblical Cryptozoology. I’ll add it to the list!

      -revTony

      NOTE to my Readers: For those of you who aren’t aware, The Bookwyrm’s Lair offers book reviews from a Biblical Creationist POV.

  2. Well, Tony, a person doesn’t have to be a young earth creationist to be a Christian. Taking the Bible seriously is very important, and pointing to God’s plight of having to use human instruments sounds logical. How inspired were they? What does “God breathed” mean? This is a debate that has continued for centuries, but as I like to point out, God did literally write some of the Scripture. The Bible says twice that the Ten Commandments were written with the finger of God (Exodus 31:18 & Deuteronomy 9:10). Since He wrote so little and used human authors for the rest, it seems to me that we should certainly take seriously something that God wrote himself. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in taking all of the Bible seriously. I believe in salvation by grace, and I am very thankful for that grace. Perhaps we should examine the fourth commandment and see some of what God wrote and the reason he gave for this particular commandment. Of course there will be those who would say this was added by a human author. Anything people don’t like they try to explain away. It is stated in Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 that God created the world is six days, and in chapter 31 we are told that this was intended to be an everlasting sign to Israel. There was a time that I considered the day/age theory or the gap theory, but like you, I have changed my mind. I was a believer in Christ then, and I still am. Now I consider the omnipotence of the Lord from a different perspective than I did back then.

    1. Pastor Buddy,

      As I’ve mentioned on occasion, I once [over a decade ago] told my wife that “I suppose God could have used evolution,” so I certainly understand the position of someone who takes their Bible seriously but does not hold to a literal Genesis; however, I do think that as the Christian begins to grow in knowledge and faith and the Holy Spirit begins guiding us into all truth that a high view of the Scripture will lead to the Biblical Creationist interpretation. You’re correct that those who hold to extraBiblical Creationist views will do whatever they can to explain away the obvious if it conflicts with their theory. I did! I didn’t want to appear unintelligent! I thought I was making the Gospel more palatable to my skeptical friends. But I don’t get to edit the whole of the Gospel message, from Genesis to the Gospels to Revelation. Rather, my job is to give God’s message as He’s related it to us.

      You are perfectly correct to point out that God did literally write the Ten Commandments. This is a great point! Exodus 20:8-11 reminds us that one of the things literally God wrote was an affirmation of a literal, historical Creation Week:

      8Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: 10But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.

      By the way, Buddy, I’m now halfway through “Mike’s New Reality” and I have to say, I’m truly enjoying it!

      -revTony

  3. Brother Joel has posted a response to this post at http://thechurchofjesuschrist.us/2011/03/its-pointless-to-argue-with-someone-who-hides/ . As noted, initially forgot to link back to Brother Joel’s original posts, as I had intended [and as is my usual habit]. He has taken issue with the omission and erroneously mischaracterized me for an honest mistake. Of course, he’s also charged me with heresy… :[

  4. Lance Ponder says:

    As a fellow YEC I think what you’ve written in this post is gracious and kind-spirited, yet honest and practical. I cannot help but wonder at the logical disconnect between those who claim faith in a resurrected Christ yet deny the details of the revelation of his purpose in the creation and fall. Then again, like you, there was a time when I was “agnostic” about the 6-day / 6000 year position.

    1. Thanks, Lance,

      This is literally one of those issues where I can honestly say, “There but by the grace of God go I.” Unfortunately, it’s a topic that needs addressed. If we do not affirm the Bible is not our ultimate authority and if it is not true from the beginning, we open the door to every subjective interpretation ala carte under the sun.And if God is not omnipotent enough to overcome the limitations of fallible men to relate the Bible to us as He intended, well, that’s not the kind of God described as existing in the Bible and that would mean the Bible is internally inconsistent. It’s sad that in trying to make God’s revealed Word accomodate man’s ever-changing interpretation of nature, they actually undermine the authority of God’s Word.

      In the course of debating this issue, I’m beginning to see there are different types of extraBiblical Creationists: nominals who haven’t given the issue much thought, populists who affirm it because someone they respect does or because their church does, agnostics who preach that either extraBiblical or Biblical Creation could be true but no one could ever know for certain, and zealots who are intensely commited to this view and are the source of most of the extraBiblical homiletics and proselytizing. The latter group concern me, especially since they ted to be mocking and spiteful when opposed. The one in question, for example, accused me of heresy for advocating the apostolic tradition of a literal Creation Week, a young Earth and a worldwide Noachian Flood.

      We need to pray for them, that they come to the knowledge of the truth as we did, but I wonder if debating them is not simply casting pearls, as it were.

      -revTony

      1. Lance Ponder says:

        I used to be zealous in debating them. I’m still a zealot, but not for debating them. As you suggest, all too often it is pearl before swine. I will engage to make my position known – if only as a witness that the position is held out there – and will discuss with civility with any who wish it, but I long ago quit feeding the trolls.

        I do post on the subject with some regularity on my blog, though. Your comments are always welcome, especially on my Creation science posts.

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